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13 Wedding Planner Tips You’ll Wish You’d Known Sooner

Say “I do” to a no-drama, on-budget marriage with the help of this expert advice.

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Bride and groom at their weddingPhoto: Shutterstock

1. You’re Going to Blow Your Budget—Unless You Stick to a Plan

Any wedding planner will tell you, budget expectations rarely match reality. While a 2014 BMO poll found that most newly engaged Canadian couples initially plan to spend an average of $15,000 on their nuptials, a 2015 survey by Weddingbells found the average total came out to a whopping $30,000. To avoid pitfalls, base your budget on quotes and scrap expensive items you can live without.

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Friends at a bridal shower taking a selfiePhoto: Shutterstock

2. The Biggest Budget Busters Aren’t What You Think

The largest unexpected costs? Bridal showers and bachelorette parties. Though it’s customary for bridesmaids to cover the cost, many brides pick up part of the tab, especially on an overnight getaway. To reduce costs, stay close to home and keep it simple.

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Outdoor wedding with flower petals on the groundPhoto: Shutterstock

3. Learn to Love Friday

Saturday evening weddings in June are the most popular, and consequently often the priciest. Friday evenings are a good alternative, giving your guests the whole weekend to recover.

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Catering at weddingPhoto: Shutterstock

4. The Cardinal Rule of Wedding Budgeting: Prioritize

“Pick two or three things that are most import­ant,” says Toronto wedding planner Alicia Seifert. “If that’s an amazing photographer and good food, then scale back on the flowers and decor.”

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Groom and groomsman laughing at weddingPhoto: Shutterstock

5. Don’t Forget What Happens After the Party

One of the most common mistakes in wedding planning is forgetting about clean-up, says Seifert. Unless it’s included in your venue contract, picking up post-party is your job. “At the end of the night, your feet will hurt, your friends will be drunk, and most of your guests will have left,” Seifert says. Plan ahead, or risk being hit with a cleaning fee.

These eight wedding etiquette rules are non-negotiable.

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Wedding planner chatting with bridePhoto: Shutterstock

6. The Case for Hiring a Wedding Planner

They’re not just for big fancy events! They’ll keep you on schedule and stay until the end to make sure the party wraps up smoothly. A savvy wedding planner might also be able to save you money by suggesting less expensive options than you’d consider on your own.

Find out the 13 things wedding planners don’t tell you.

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Mother taking photo of her son at his weddingPhoto: Shutterstock

7. Make It a Family Affair

For better or for worse, family members will weigh in on your wedding planning decisions. Keep the peace with good communication. “The wedding industry sells the fallacy that it’s all about the couple, but there’s always at least one family member whose point of view matters,” says Seifert. “Have an honest conversation with your partner about who those people are.”

Check out these lucky wedding traditions from around the world!

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Wedding photographerPhoto: Shutterstock

8. Manage the Meddlers

As for all other well-meaning interferers, keep them out of your hair by delegating small tasks, such as picking up flowers or corralling family members for photos.

Here are six ways to recover from cringe-worthy wedding guest fails.

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Floral arrangement for weddingPhoto: Shutterstock

9. Be Easy with Your Blooms

Don’t get too attached to certain flowers. What’s affordable around your wedding date is just a guess­timate by your florist. Choose colours and silhouettes instead.

Wondering what to do with your flowers after the big day? Consider this!

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Outdoor wedding receptionPhoto: Shutterstock

10. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for a Better Price

Almost all wedding fees are, up to a point, negotiable, says Seifert. “But don’t start your relationship to vendors off on the wrong foot by lowballing,” she says. “There’s a vendor for every price range; it’s just a matter of finding them.”

Brush up on your skills with these tips on how to haggle like a pro.

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Wedding party selfiePhoto: Shutterstock

11. How to Say No to the Junior Set

A no-kids policy is within your rights—it’s your day, after all—but give parents a one-on-one explan­ation of your reasons before invitations go out (and don’t mention the munchkins’ unruly behaviour). Better yet, book a group babysitter and give your parent friends a night off.

Start your wedding playlist with these 12 dance songs!

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Beach weddingPhoto: Shutterstock

12. Destination Wedding? Do Your Homework

A common misconception about destination weddings is that food and drink will be free if you book at an all-inclusive resort. “Private events always cost extra,” says Jennifer Borgh, a Canadian wedding planner based in Jamaica. “If you book at an off-site venue, you’ll get more personalization and won’t be subject to a curfew.”

Need some location inspiration? Here are 10 dreamy wedding destinations!

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Wine bottles in ice bucketPhoto: Shutterstock

13. Don’t Forget About Transportation

Be an ethical host—provide shuttle buses to and from your venue so that no one is tempted to drink and drive. Alternatively, have a stream of taxis waiting at the end of the reception.

Looking for more ways to cut costs? Here are nine ways to save on a wedding!

Reader's Digest Canada
Originally Published in Reader's Digest Canada